Compact cars continue to outpace the overall market in 2021, despite the withdrawal from the segment by domestic brands. Sales of compact cars in the United States are up 22% in the first nine months of the year, beating the overall market which is up 13%. In the third quarter, the compact class was down 5% vs -13% for the market. Nearly 1.04 million compact cars were sold in the first three quarters of 2021, improving the segment’s share of the market to 8.8%, up from 8.2% in the same period of 2020. Just two nameplates in the top-15 are down on last year.
The Toyota Corolla had a strong start of the year, but the Honda Civic outsold it in Q2 and Q3 and is now within 1,200 sales of the top of the class. Together, the two Japanese sedans take nearly 42% of compact car sales in the United States. The Nissan Sentra consolidates its third places, just ahead of the Hyundai Elantra and Kia Forte duo. The latter three all sell over 40% more on last year, distancing the Volkswagen Jetta which is down 8% and was outsold by the Toyota Prius in Q3. Then there’s another large gap to the #8 Mazda3 which manages to distance the best selling domestic nameplate Chevrolet Bolt EV. The Bolt is up 76% thanks to the addition of the EUV version and despite safety recalls for the model. The Subaru Impreza is down 29%, which makes it the biggest loser in the top-15 while its sporty sibling WRX is up 37%, both nameplates are almost level for the year so far. The Honda Insight jumps ahead of the Hyundai Ioniq, while the Nissan Leaf is the best performing model in the class with sales more than doubling on last year.
Luxury compact cars are losing ground after a strong start of 2021. In the first nine months of 2020 they held 5.7% of the class, but in the same period this year their share has dropped to 3.9% as sales are down 18% on the first three quarters of 2020. The BMW 2-Series had a great start of the year but has slowed down in Q2 and Q3, allowing the Acura ILX to close the gap. The ILX is now just 900 units behind the 2-Series. The two Mercedes-Benz nameplates both lose about 40% of their sales on last year, of which sales of especially the CLA have fallen off a cliff in Q3. The Audi A3 is in the process of a model changeover and sold just 75 copies in Q3 before the new generation arrives Stateside. The BMW i3 manages a nice uptick on last year but remains a niche model in the US, outselling only the Mini Clubman.
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